August 31, 2017

Good Dog

Sugar the Dog, R.I.P.

August 29, 2017

The Quality of Mercy

Trump's pardon of Joe Arpaio interrupts an ongoing judicial process in federal court involving the ex-sheriff and, well, the federal court itself.

Arpaio's trouble was caused by his flouting the federal court's direct instructions: the court told "Sheriff Joe" what he needed to do and what he needed to stop doing, and he ignored the court and went on doing things the cruel stupid way he'd been doing them for years.

Implicit in Trumps' act was the assumption that the executive's Article II pardoning power in this case is inherently greater than the adjudicating powers of the judiciary under Article III.

Now, a presidential pardon may apply balm to the lash of criminal guilt that attaches to the individual accepting it, but a pardon does not carry with it the power to deny the court, the federal third-branch-of-government court in particular, any level of review, and indeed judgement, it should chose to bestow on the matter. That's not something it's in the power of the pardon to stop.

“He was extremely distressed with the mischaracterization of the conviction,” [Arpaio's attorney] Goldman said. “It was extremely hurtful and upsetting to him that it was being reported that he was convicted of racial profiling."

“The sheriff is not a racist and has never been a racist, and any type of such accusation was upsetting and extremely distressing to him,” Goldman said.

The racial profiling lawsuit was brought in civil court by the American Civil Liberties Union. The judge trying that case not only found that Arpaio's policies constituted racial profiling, he also found Arpaio to be in civil contempt of court and referred him to another judge for the criminal contempt.

—Kiefer and Wingett Sanchez, Judge won't vacate former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's contempt conviction without oral arguments,, August 29, 2017.

In this nation it is enough to be a lifelong avowed racist and commit treason in defense of slavery to qualify for a statue downtown celebrating the noble Southern heritage of, well, racism and treason.

Arpaio's racism of the deed was duly noted by the court, which, according to his attorney, distresses Sheriff Joe. Admitted racism has become déclassé. What a difference a civil war makes.

August 28, 2017


In the first eight months of the Trump presidency, norms are being violated so frequently that it's hard, in the inevitable glare of the next new enormity in line, to pay particular attention to the fine spreading network of cracks accumulating in the body politic as a result of all this malignant activity.

August 22, 2017

On Many Sides. Many Sides

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn resigned his position as special adviser to President Donald Trump on Friday, saying he didn’t want “partisan bickering” to cloud the work of the administration.

—David Benoit, Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2017

Carl Ichan did what he came to Washington to do, and having done it, smartly absconded.
Cleverly, the WSJ's story of Ichan's perceived conflict of interest swallows itself into visual nothingness, Cheshire-Cat-like before the eye of the beholder

August 18, 2017

When Life Imitates Wes Anderson

At the start of the Great Depression in 1929, Maria Theresa engaged two people presenting themselves as "Colonel Townsend" and "Princess Baronti" to sell the necklace for US$450,000. Realising that the current economic conditions would make it almost impossible to reach the asking price, the pair began offers at $100,000, signing on Archduke Leopold of Habsburg, the destitute grandnephew of Maria Theresa, to vouch for the necklace's authenticity. Deals were negotiated with the jewelers Harry Winston and Harry Berenson, but eventually the pair sold the necklace to David Michel of New York City for $60,000, of which the pair claimed $53,730 as expenses. When informed of the sale, Maria Theresa took the matter to court, eventually resulting in the recovery of the necklace, the jailing of Archduke Leopold, and the flight of Townsend and Baronti from the authorities.

The Napoleon Diamond Necklace

August 17, 2017

The Evolution of the Psychology of Water Cooler Chat From Quip to 30-Page Exegesis 1870-2017

Now that the proposed country-wide March on Google has been postponed in the aftermath of Charlottesville, it may be useful to spend time otherwise wasted paying attention to that by reading a take on the situation from Daniel Davies at Crooked Timber.

August 15, 2017

Call the Ad Council

This ad is chasing me around the internet, the one in the rectangle below Don Baylor's stats, the one that asks "What is x if the square root of the sum of x and 15 added to the square root of x is revealed to be 15?"

This is a relatively trivial math problem and I'm not sure why brilliant, its creator, thinks I care enough about mathematics to want to be asked about it over and over, but brilliant's ad team keeps planting it on pages I'm visiting.

So enough. Stop. 49. Let it rest.

He Is Unfit to Be President

Let's hear it for the 25th Amendment.

August 08, 2017


"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen... he has been very threatening beyond a normal state. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before," he said.

Immediately following this pronouncement, North Korea let it be known it's seriously considering a strike on Guam, a major American presence in East Asia.

So, President Trump warned the North Koreans that a nuclear holocaust awaited them if they made any more threats, and immediately North Koreans responded by doing just that.

This is what's known as calling a bluff in diplomacy.

August 07, 2017

Surreal Estate News

Go ahead, pay $90,000 for an acre or so of San Francisco. Hijinks ensue.